Disrupt our Hospitals

Due to a family illness I spent the end of last week in a hospital in the UK. I’m still shocked at the communication tools on offer both for staff and for patients, I understand there is no money in the country let alone the NHS to fund such improvements in ”the patient experience, but surely there is enough research into the ‘healing powers’ of community, interaction and engagement for individuals who are suffering and going through a difficult period.

I’ll focus on the patients on the wards I walked through first, these were normal wards you see in every hospital, being in the Cotswolds it probably wasn’t as bad as I’ve seen (Royal Sussex, I’m looking at you), but the level of boredom on the patient’s faces was unbelievable. Not surprising really given that they could only really read the Daily Mail or The Sun or stare at the other patients. Surely it’s in the longer term best interest for everyone to keep these patients occupied and engaged in the outside world whilst they are in the ward. Yes, ok they are supposed to be resting but no-one will force any mass participation of online activity. So what am I suggesting, here goes;

Specially designed Terminals which offer internet access, software which enables the patient to learn about their issues (what is going on and what will need to be done in the future), a sort of opt-in social network enabling patients to find others who have similar issues and start the building or integrating into a support network after they leave the hospital. Even something as basic as finding other patients with similar interests would surely go along way to keep spirits up.

Cost is prohibitive, but I’d really like to see a study on recovery period and interactions and communications over a set period.

The other side is why-oh-why aren’t Nurses and Doctors walking around with ipads continually logged onto patient database which is updated immediately, after every visit, consultation or change in the patient? We endured the nightmare of watching our relative move wards only to find out the Nurses on the second ward didn’t actually know the full extent of her problems. This would not have been the case had the staff been empowered with technology and not tied up carrying clipboards and notes around with them.

Given that the last national NHS digital implementation went something like 11 million over budget and was delivered 2 years late I’m not holding my breath for any change any time soon.

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How to launch a social network (Google +)

Over the last few days there has been a flurry of activity from my early adopter friends on Google+. It seems only one friend is 100% certain of what he is doing with the tool (he’s living and working in Germany so efficiency has been drilled into him). The rest of us are still not 100% sure who will be seeing our updates and how everything meshes together.

We have come across a few kinks in the platform (it is still in BETA) and are happily collaborating with each other and sending feedback to Google with the aim to understand and get the most out of the tool. In essence Google+ has got me talking to more people and expanding my network before I really start using it.

The theme of this post is not to run through the features and benefits of Google+,  as there are plenty of articles and content already circulating the web from far more accomplished writers. I wanted to share my thoughts on the ‘How’ Google+ has been introduced into our lives, and why I think this will be fundamental to its success.

To access Google+ you would have to have an invite either from Google (because you registered an interest in the Google+ Project earlier in the development process), or you would have to receive an invite from friend who was lucky enough to have been invited by Google. Google+ wasn’t advertised and pushed out to the market with a succession of banner ads and marketing bumf, the same way Chrome has been recently. Most people, me included, heard about it through social networks on the day the invites started dropping into inbox’s. In a nutshell, Google has used the power of social networks to soft launch its Google+ tool.

Why did it choose this launch strategy? First, it creates a sense of exclusivity amongst the early users. These users feel part of an elite community testing out G+ and because of this are closer to the brand/service they are testing.

Second, and following on from the first point, these early users are more likely to become brand champions, because of their increased levels of engagement with G+. And, if you have enough brand champions in each network then engagement levels within that network have been proven to be higher than in those without a keen advocate.

Third, and there is no evidence to support this theory, if you have a series of early adopters testing and collaborating on a BETA stage, then Google has some pretty strong data on how these users are connecting and how they communicate – essentially giving Google a glimpse of how the behaviour of these users could be morphing into a new way of using these tools. There is also the possibility that a super network of connected early adopters could be developed in some way.

The cynic would suggest Google has a working version of G+ ready to roll out at the drop of a hat and that the launch strategy is a sophisticated marketing campaign, rather than a collaborative development experience.

The way users have been asked to be involved a little before they are given this free tool is a refreshing approach to communications and one which ultimately creates more engaged users. I’m not sure this approach will work for all brands or services, but it is clearly the best way to “grab’ users of other services and get them engaged as early as possible, in a highly aggressive market, in which Google is not dominant.

What do you think of Google’s launch strategy?

Happiness and the paperless office

I read this article today on the advancement of the paperless office which got me thinking about the way we work in offices and how tablets and clouds will ultimately free us from desks and enable us to work in a way which is more natural to the individual. I then contributed to this post from Nixon McInnes which got me thinking around the subject of happiness at work.

It struck me the increased mobility of work could create a better understanding of what makes workers happier, er, at work. Management, Internal Communicators, Organisation Designers and Interior Designers can gleam a wealth of data from users of mobile tools which could directly change the performance of the organisation for the better.

My theory is based on a model used by a LSE venture called Mappiness where users of the app receive up to 5 alerts a day asking them about their happiness levels at that point in time. The alerts also ask for data about who the user is with, what activity the user in engaging in and so forth. After a while the app builds up a profile of the user’s happiness levels based on location, activity and company. This is then shared between the LSE and the user, enabling the LSE to build a macro understanding of the happiness levels in the country, whilst the user gets to understand their behaviour through the data.

If this model was transplanted into an enterprise version and added onto the tablets/devices of the newly mobile workforce then the organisation would be able to analyse the data and find out crucial information such as; what time of the day their workforce are more likely to be proactive and productive and base a workflow around that. Employee responsiveness could be measured enabling the best timing for the delivery of communications.

As one would expect a mobile workforce to work in areas where they are most comfortable, the data will enable the organisation to find out what sort of environmental design works best for their workforce. The data could also be used to examine happiness of clusters against outcomes to find out which groups are working well together and which are not.

There is a huge opportunity in this space for a real data capture which can help organisations with achieving the right outcome in important decision making. Firstly, the tablets/devices must be adopted, along with a freeing up of individual workspaces. Individual happiness must also be taken more seriously in organisation. Once these hurdles have been overcome then the happy paperless office can be more than a pipe dream.